DemDaily: Uping the Ante on the Debates

May 30, 2019

This week the Democratic National Committee announced new qualifications for the third Democratic primary debate, to be held September 12th and 13th, and hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision.

Pic: MSNBC/Getty

In February, the DNC unveiled new debate requirements, adding grassroots fundraising support as a metric for what is anticipated to be twelve debates over the course of the 2020 presidential cycle.

To qualify for the debate stage, primary candidates must meet a 1% polling threshold in at least three reputable national or early primary state polls, or a candidate must receive donations from 65,000 individual donors, with a minimum of 200 unique donors in at least 20 states.

Those rules apply to the first debate, scheduled for June 26th & 27th in Miami, Florida, and the second, set for July 30th and 31st in Detroit, Michigan.

To accommodate the large field, the debates will occur over consecutive nights in prime time, and capped at 20 candidates. Should more meet the metric, ranking on performance will determine the top 20.

Placement of candidates in one night or the other will be determined randomly.

When the first round of debate requirements were announced, there were only 11 candidates in a field that has now grown to 24. Of those, 20 candidates have already qualified for Miami.

Under the new requirements, which will apply to the third and fourth debates, however, the new threshold becomes considerably more challenging.

Uping the Ante
To qualify for the September and October debates, candidates must meet both the new polling requirements and the grassroots fundraising qualifications.

Image: Washington Post

PollingCandidates must receive 2% or more support in at least four separate national polls, or early state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada.

For the September debate, each poll must be publicly released between June 28, 2019, and August 28, 2019, and include a list of presidential candidates for respondents.

Polls must be sponsored by an approved organization, which presently includes Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Des Moines Register, Fox News, Monmouth University, NBC News, New York Times, National Public Radio (NPR), Quinnipiac University, University of New Hampshire, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and Winthrop University.

Fundraising: Under the September and October requirements, the qualifying numbers doubled. Candidates must receive donations from 130,000 individual donors, with a minimum of 400 unique donors in at least 20 states. For the September debate, qualifying donations must be received by 11:59 P.M. on August 28, 2019.

June 26th & 27th Presidential Primary Debate
Date Wednesday, June 26th & Thursday, June 27th
Time 9:00pm ET
Candidates Biden, Booker, Bullock, Buttigieg, Castro, de Blasio, Delaney, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Harris, Hickenlooper, Inslee, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Ryan, Sanders, Swalwell, Warren, Williamson, Yang
Networks NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo
Live Streaming NBC News' digital properties, including,, NBC News Mobile App, OTT apps, and Telemundo's digital platforms
Qualifications 1% polling threshold in three qualifying polls, or 65,000 individual donations from a minimum of 200 unique donors in 20 states
Date Tuesday, July 30th and Wednesday, July 31st
Location Detroit, Michigan
Candidates TBD
Networks CNN, CNN International, and CNN en Español
Live Streaming CNN's website, mobile apps and connected TVs via CNNgo
Qualifications 1% polling threshold in three qualifying polls, or 65,000 individual donations from a minimum of 200 unique donors in 20 states
September 12th & 13th Presidential Primary Debate
Date Thursday, September 12th and Friday, September 13th
Location TBD
Candidates TBD
Networks ABC News, in partnership with Univision
Live Streaming ABC News Live, ABCNews website and apps, as well as Hulu Live, The Roku Channel, and Facebook Watch 
Qualifications 2% polling threshold in three qualifying polls, and 130,000 individual donations from a minimum of 400 unique donors in 20 states.

The October, and remaining two additional debates in 2019, are to be scheduled.

DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott

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DemList will not publish on Friday, May 31st


Sources: MSNBC, CNN, FiveThirtyEight

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